Letter from theRebbe Maharashwith remarksby the Previous RebbeFrom HaTamim, Issue No. 5, pp. 8-10, published in conjunction with the story of Rashdam. The editors of HaTamim inserted the following introductory remarks at the beginning of this article:We herewith present a letter written by the Rebbe Maharash of holy and blessed memory, together with introductory bibliographic remarks by his grandson the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita, describing the origins and content of the letter. The beginning and end of the letter are reproduced in facsimile from the original manuscript.

A CollectionThe sacred handwritten manuscripts are stored in special collections. There is a separate collection for each Rebbe, where his holy letters are deposited.of sacred handwritten lettersby my saintly grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash:

Bibliographic RemarksEach sacred manuscript in the collection has an attached note authenticating its origin and describing its history.

The present letter was handwritten by my saintly grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash. It was written in Marienbad during the month of Menachem Av 5628 [July 1868]. The letter is marked “public-private,”4 and was addressed to the city of Borisov. It was delivered Wednesday 10 Menachem Av, 5628 [July 29, 1868] to the address of one of the elder chassidim and leading member of the community the chassid and doer of good deeds, Reb Leib Aizik (of blessed memory).

Subject of the letter:

i)The necessity of having a specific person appointed as mashpia, to teach Chassidus and to arouse people’s hearts to the service of G‑d (blessed be He).

ii)The obligation and the capability of business people to engage in avodah.

iii)Authorization of the chassid Reb Shmuel Dov Ber as mashpia.

Thanks to the efforts of the chassid Reb Meir Mordechai Czernin of Borisov (one of Reb Shmuel Dov Ber’s pupils), the sons of the chassid Reb Leib Aizik (the chassidim Reb Yehoshua and Reb Michel) were persuaded to bring this letter as a gift to my saintly father the Rebbe [Rashab] when they came to Lubavitch for the Shabbos Parshas Shelach 5650 [June 14, 1890]. The aforementioned chassid Reb Meir Mordechai told me the whole story of this affair in detail.

Description and size of the letter:

The letter is written on blue paper, size 29 X 22.5 cm. It contains nineteen lines: the first line contains BH and the date and place it was written; the next two lines list the persons to whom it was addressed; the body of the letter contains fifteen lines; the last line is the signature.

Text of the letter

BH Wednesday, 3 Menachem Av 5628 [July 22, 1868], Marienbad:

To my esteemed intimate comrades, the general public,5 the outstanding veteran chassidim of the Congregation of Borisov. Especially, to my esteemed and beloved comrades, the outstanding veteran chassidim, renowned and noble, Reb Leib Aizik, Reb Avraham Merzin, Reb Zalman Lipshitz, Reb Chayim Asher, and his brother-in-law Reb Dov Ber Landau.6

Greetings, and may you all be well;

You esteemed gentlemen are surely aware that we are living in hard times, especially during the present year when inflation is running rampant.7 Therefore I have decided to write these few lines to beg you all in the strongest terms to keep in mind our outstanding friend, the noted chassid Reb Shmuel Dov Ber, who dwells in your community. My saintly father [the Tzemach Tzedek] spoke to me on numerous occasions about this chassid, describing him with the greatest praise, and mentioning especially the fact that he once dwelt in our courtyard.8 Later, he often spoke of him more highly than of any of his contemporaries.

Now the fact is that each one of Anash needs to have a person specifically designated to teach Chassidus, explaining it in public lectures and in private lessons. This person must also arouse the hearts of the chassidim, so that the element of love of G‑d that lies hidden within the heart of every Jew becomes activated from potential to actual, and so that each may serve G‑d with fear and with love etc., according to his own abilities. This is even more necessary in these hard times, when each person’s mind and heart are occupied with his personal problems.

Let the businessman not say, “But I am busy and preoccupied, so how can such ideas penetrate my heart?” It is not so! On the contrary, business people have it within their capacity and for them it is even easier to serve the Creator whenever the opportunity presents itself, as explained in detail in several places in Sefer Shel Beinonim [Tanya], in Derech HaChayim, and in Likkutei Torah. Study the discourse beginning with the words9 “As an apple tree among the trees of the forest…,” which was recited during the years 5619 and 562110 (I remember that the aforementioned Reb Shmuel Dov heard it recited). The main thing is that one should have the desired intentions, as explained in several places, including the discourse beginning with the words, “All people of Israel.”11

For the above reasons, I now submit the following request: see to it that there is some central location where communal funds as well as additional funds contributed by private individuals may be deposited. Make it an inviolable rule that each week this money be collected for our aforementioned intimate comrade, so that he may have an income without cares in his old age,12 thus enabling him to devote his time to the study of Chassidus. This will be to your own benefit as well. Though he is willing to teach you even without this, it is not the same thing at all, as the wise will readily understand. This is even more important in view of the fact that the citizens of your town are presently in need of a rabbinic authority. I am certain that you will all assemble for this purpose, to appropriate a regular salary to be paid [to the rabbi] from some community fund. And so, it is my urgent request that at the same time you also make regular collections for the present purpose [Reb Shmuel Dov’s support] at least the sum of three or four silver rubles a week13 so that his monetary worries are relieved. See Midrash Rabbah, Parshas Behar, section 34.14

I trust that you will give due attention to these earnestly spoken words of mine, and that you will fulfill my request. Please inform me of the results; I will give you an address in Odessa [where the reply may be sent]. In reward for all this, may G‑d bless all your undertakings, as Scripture states in Parshas Reeh, 16:14, “You shall surely give… in reward for this the Lrd your G‑d will bless you in all your deeds and all your undertakings.”

As you yourselves desire, so do I, your intimate comrade who seeks your welfare as the desire of my heart and soul. I beg you [to obey my instructions] for the benefit of our aforementioned comrade, and also for your own spiritual and material benefit, forever each day.

[signed]: Shmuel.